Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” in Santa Maria delle Grazie, Milan
The story of Leonardo’s last Supper:
Perhaps the most well-known attraction in Milan is Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper”, painted on a dining room wall in the Convent of Santa Maria delle Grazie. The work took him two years to complete, from 1495-1497. He was said to have painted all day long on some days, and other days, just sat and stared.
However he did it, the result was a masterpiece that has survived despite some dangers. It was used as a bivouac area for soldiers for three years in the 19th Century. During World War II ( on the Feast of the Assumption, 1943) a bomb landed in the cloister, but the painting miraculously survived, probably due to the fact that the wall had been protected by sandbags.
Despite the fact that it survived, it was not well preserved and so today, although some restoration work is being done, it will not amaze you the way, for instance, that the Sistine Chapel might. The brilliant colors have faded, partly due to the type of paint used and partly due to centuries of neglect, but it still is well worth the visit.
The work is on display but carefully preserved, with humidity and temperature constantly monitored. The painting is some 15 feet (4.5 meters) high and 29 feet (8.8 meters) wide.
Tickets need to be purchased in advance—far in advance if you want to be certain to get in. An option we highly recommend is to book with a tour that includes the painting, since these tour companies usually have tickets arranged in advance and you are pretty much assured to get in. It is closed on Mondays.
Visitors are allowed only 15 minutes to view the painting, and most groups are limited to 20 people.
Traveling to Santa Maria delle Grazie in Milan:
Address: Piazza Santa Maria delle Grazie, 3, 20123 Milan, Italy.
GPS coordinates: 45° 27′ 57.6072” N, 9° 10′ 13.3428” E
Tel: +39 02-467-6111
1. Madden, Daniel M. A Religious Guide to Europe. New York: Macmillan, 1975. Print.
2. Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons.